July 13, 2007 - Once upon a time, there was a jungle. The jungle was ruled by a lion, and the lion was good. But one day, the lion was dethroned, and all the others animals began to fight over what creature would next reign as king. To bring an outcome to fruition, the animals decided to battle each other in an assortment of challenges across different landscapes. The winner of each challenge gets ballots, and the animal with the most ballots after every challenge has been completed, is the king.
Hmm. Well, it's more organized than the 2000 presidential election was, that's for sure.
Featuring four-player simultaneous play, Hail to the Chimp features fifteen different game types, each of which can be played on any of the ten available levels. The first game I sampled, Stuff the Ballot, had four different animals--I got to play as French accented octopus--running around a rotating wheel collecting clams, which act as ballots. On the outside of the wheel exist four baskets, each a different color to denote the four different animals. The baskets move from corner to corner, so players must be aware of where their basket is at all times in order to quickly return clams.
Yes, the description sounds cliche, but in practice, it's quite fun and somewhat original. Players can attack other players with quick strikes, or hold the attack button for a more powerful charged attack, which spills the attacked player's clams all over the floor. Should a player find himself lagging behind his opponents in terms of the number of clams he possesses, temporary teams can be formed by pressing the team button, which causes a player to signal that he is ready to cooperate with an opponent. Each team attack is different depending on which two characters join forces. The hippo used the armadillo--rolled up as a sphere--to maneuver around the level, but both players had to agree on the direction in which to move, or the characters would remain motionless. When my character teamed with the hippo, I was carried on the big guy's head and whipped at nearby players as we moved around. While working in tandem, the partners divide the clams equally. Alliances end after about ten seconds, at which point the former partners can attack each other to gain even more clams.
Another level saw players again clamoring for clams, this time on the site of an active volcano. After a player collected ten clams, an icon appeared above his head denoting his ability to run from station to station--a couple in the middle, others spread out in corners--collecting bags of money similarly colored to the player's own palette scheme. After a few trips to each station, the game would end, but typically not before players would activate the volcano by visiting special areas stationed throughout the area.
It's important to note that, because any of the game types can be played on any of the levels, strategies are constantly changing. I found this a good technique to add lots of replay value to the game, which is important with minigame collections.
Hail to the Chimp will be available in the first quarter of 2008.